Dear Maya

Did you know that you are famous? Famous means that you are well known by a lot of people. I know about you through your mom, who writes about you on her blog Uncommon Sense and the amazing way you are communicating with your talker “Mini.” I also see comments from people all over the world. So, if you don’t already have the word famous on Mini, then I think it is an important word to add.

 

Here are some of the lessons I have learned from you and your family that really inspire me to work harder with children who are having difficulty talking. Many of these lessons apply not only to children with Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) devices, but also to children with any type of language difficulty.

 

1. Model Model Model

Modeling language  is normal. It’s what parents of typically developing children do all the time. However, because of the effort involved, many people forget to model for children with AAC devices.  Talking to children improves vocabulary and language skills. If this has to be done ‘wearing an ipad‘, then so be it.

 

2. Never give up

I know this one sounds cliched and the ‘solution’ is different for every child. Your mom believes so much in you. Because of her belief in your abilities, she perseveres even when things get tough. She understands that there are no miracle cures and the road to acceptance is a long, difficult one. Pick your battles and your goals. For me (and your mom), the goal is communication because this is what enables you to express your inner you. Being able to communicate is a basic human right and providing you with an AAC system is a way to make it happen.

 

3. Keep it real

 

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Sometimes this means finding the balance between therapy and real life. Sometimes this means drawing a line in the sand and saying “enough.”

 

4. Be your child’s advocate.

There are so many obstacles in the road to effective communication and implementing an AAC system effectively is one of them. Sadly, in order to do this, someone (you) may often need to fight the system so that your child can be all the he/she can be. Unfortunately, not everyone is as clued up as your mom about how important it is to have the ability to communicate in some way. Starting with a robust  AAC system as soon as possible is really important.

 

5. Provide the words and Presume Competence

Without the words, the ability to communicate thoughts and ideas is limited.  You have taught me that as much as we try to anticipate or guess what you might want to say (and we need to do this a little bit) so that we can build on your words,  I am not a mindreader!

 

Maya and Dana you have taught me so many valuable lessons. Thank you for sharing your journey with me. I hope that I can become the therapist I didn’t know I could be.

 

With Love

Nikki

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